Apple's spin machine revs up
Apple’s marketing machine will be spinning at warp speed at the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco starting Monday. But marketing can only do so much.
The five-day event will be an opportunity for Apple to prove to the world that it can still innovate. With the smartphone and tablet markets increasingly saturated, the tech giant is under growing pressure to come up with the next big thing.
The Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC, is usually where Apple unveils software updates for its products. Upgraded laptops, desktops, and, occasionally, entirely new services are also frequently carted out onstage.
Last year, for example, Apple used WWDC to introduce a Spotify-like music streaming service that costs $10 monthly. Although hardly revolutionary, Apple Music has gained good traction with 13 million subscribers at the end of the last quarter.
Music is just part of a bigger push by Apple CEO Tim Cook to expand his company’s focus beyond gadgets to what he calls services, a catch-all that includes the App Store (which co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks is the company’s most important product ever) and the Apple Pay mobile wallet. They give Apple a steady revenue stream that is independent of selling more iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
What to expect at this year’s WWDC beyond the typical is anyone’s guess. Perhaps Apple will make Siri, its voice-activated personal assistant, available to outside developers to include in their apps and products. It would be one way to counter the threat of Amazon and its smart home hub, Echo, and its voice assistant, Alexa, which can turn off the lights on command and order an Uber.
But what you can count on Monday is Cook casting even the most minor product tweaks as innovative breakthroughs. Whether it will be enough to appease investors and return Apple’s shares to their highs of a year ago is another story.
BITS AND BYTES
Marc Benioff considered investment in Pivotal. The Salesforce CEO weighed whether to participate in the EMC-VMware spinout’s mammoth $253 million round disclosed in early May, according to well-placed sources. Pivotal is behind Cloud Foundry, a technology used to develop and deliver software apps quickly. The revelation is puzzling considering that Salesforce owns not one but two Cloud Foundry competitors: Force.com and Heroku. (Fortune)
Legendary VC Tom Perkins dies. The co-founder of iconic firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers—which backed Google, Amazon, AOL, Netscape, and many other big Silicon Valley success stories—passed away from natural causes at age 84. Perkins was instrumental in recruiting the KPCB’s current chairman John Doerr, whose personal track record includes Google, Amazon, and Intuit. (Fortune, New York Times)
Apple, your green power company? The tech giant has established a subsidiary called Apple Energy that may sell excess electricity generated from the company’s various solar projects in California and Nevada. According to filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on June 6, Apple will generate up to 18 megawatts of power from solar equipment at its new headquarters. (Fortune)
What’s new in Uber-land. A French court fined the company and two top executives for running an “illegal transport service.” Germany upheld a domestic ban on the ride-sharing company’s low-cost UberPOP service. Plus, drivers in Austin have sued both Uber and Lyft for their abrupt shutdowns in the city after an unfavorable ruling over background checks. On the bright side, Uber now lets you schedule rides ahead of time—an idea CEO Travis Kalanick once dismissed as silly. (New York Times, Reuters, Reuters, Fortune)
Avaya may be struggling to repay debt. The telecommunications equipment company, which is carrying a $6 billion load, is meeting with creditors next week, reports Bloomberg. Avaya faces stiff competition from cloud software companies that are building share in contact centers as well as networking companies, such as Cisco Systems, that are winning share in cloud data centers. (Bloomberg)
Final round in Yahoo auction begins next week. Several bidders are still in the running, reports CNBC. Most of the bids for the company’s core assets in search, advertising services, and news are in the $5 billion range, although front-runner Verizon’s looks to be lower, around $3.5 billion, according to various reports. Yahoo’s board is apparently meeting today to consider the latest bids. (Fortune)
PC sales are worse than you think. PC shipments are expected to fall 7.3% in 2016 compared with a year ago, according to new estimates from IDC, in what is a steeper decline than originally forecast. The anticipated drop-off is bad news for PC makers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, which are already reeling from years of weak PC sales. In fact, four consecutive quarters of double-digit volume declines constitute a prolonged slump that is “unprecedented,” according to IDC vice president Loren Loverde, who runs that company’s Worldwide Tracker and PC research. (Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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Facebook algorithm snubs ‘Black Lives Matter’ tag, report says
by Jeff John Roberts
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The most important lesson Jack Dorsey’s mother taught him
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World’s first human-ready drone prepares for takeoff by Don Reisinger
Why startup Interset spies on your computer use by Barb Darrow
Digital supply chain company Tradeshift raises another $75 million
by Heather Clancy
ONE MORE THING
Bookmark this link for the Brainstorm Tech live stream. Can’t make it to Fortune’s annual technology and ideas summit in July? Catch video broadcasts of the headline keynotes and interviews. (Fortune)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Apple Worldwide Developer Conference: The Apple developer ecosystem. (June 13-17; San Francisco)
Information Builders Summit: Business intelligence and analytics trends. (June 13-17; Reno, Nev.)
Red Hat Summit: The premier open source technology event. (June 27-30; San Francisco)
MongoDB World: For giant ideas. (June 28-29; New York)
NewVoiceMedia Connect: Rethink sales and service. (June 30; San Francisco)
Inforum: Infor’s annual user conference. (July 10-13; New York)
Fortune Brainstorm Tech: The world’s top tech and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. (July 11-13; Aspen, Colo.)
Sage Summit: For fast-growth businesses. (July 25-28; Chicago)
Gartner Catalyst: Takeways for technical professionals. (Aug. 15-18; San Diego)
Oktane 16: Explore the role identity plays in connecting people and technology. (Aug. 29-31; Las Vegas)
Oracle OpenWorld: The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18-22; San Francisco)
Gigaom Change: 7 transformational technologies. (Sept. 21-23; Austin)
Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26-29; Chicago)
Microsoft Ignite: Product road maps and innovation. (Sept. 26-30; Atlanta)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4-7; San Francisco)
DellWorld: Dell’s annual global customer conference. (Oct. 18-20; Austin, Texas)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: The world’s largest gathering of women technologists. (Oct. 19-21; Houston)
TBM Conference: Manage the business of IT. (Nov. 7-10; San Diego)
Drone World Expo: Commercial apps for unmanned aircraft. (Nov. 15-16; San Jose, Calif.)
AWS re:Invent: Amazon’s annual cloud conference. (Nov. 28-Dec. 2; Las Vegas)